BEAUTIFUL SMILES—East Liberty Family Health Care Center’s dental staff work to make smiles in the community beautiful at its Hosanna House office. The staff, standing, from left: JeWana Davis, dental assistant; Kimberly McGeever, dental assistant; and Sheila Taylor, dental front desk. Seated, from left: Lakish Pryor, dental assistant; Dr. Suzanne L. Maslo, dentist; Dr. Edmund Effort, dentist; and Julie West, dental hygienist. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Edmund Effort)

As a federally qualified, Christian based health care center that provides community-centered, whole person quality health care to the uninsured, underinsured and underserved, the East Liberty Family Health Care Center  has been serving the community for more than 30 years. Now, with the assistance of Edmund Effort DDS, the center will once again offer dental care to the community at its reopened office, located at Hosanna House, on Wallace Avenue in Wilkinsburg.

“We’ve had Hosanna House for a while, but had a dentist who left. We were very fortunate to recruit Dr. Effort,” said Dr. Eileen Boyle, chief executive officer and assistant medical director of ELFHCC. “I think it’s fantastic; he’s a well respected dentist in the community. It’s a great fit all the way around.”

Kathy Mayle Towns, RN, vice president of ELFHCC Board of Directors and dean of Nursing at Community College of Allegheny County, echoed Boyle’s sentiments. “Dr. Effort will be a welcome addition to East Liberty Family Health Care Center’s dental outreach in the Wilkinsburg community. Dr. Effort is well trusted and recognized as a leader in the Dental community locally, regionally and nationally. After all, he is my family’s dentist and takes great care of our dental health.”

The Hosanna House location, which reopened in December 2013, currently has a patient base of 80,000 and is open Tuesdays and Thursdays; two days that Effort has taken away from his longtime practice located Downtown.

“I’ve always wanted to do this, have a second office where I’d be doing community service as a part of my practice,” Effort said of his joining ELFHCC. “But it takes a lot of equipment, funds and partnership to make this happen. And East Liberty Family Health Care and Hosanna House helped make this happen. They needed a licensed dentist and together it’s fulfilling all of our needs to help the community.”

Effort said he was first approached with the idea of the collaboration and re-opening in September 2012 while at a community day event. He said after months of  preparation, the office finally opened.

The Hosanna House location, which only offers dental care, provides services of drilling, extractions, root canals, fillings, partials, dentures, crowns and some cosmetic, but not implants.

According to its history, ELFHCC was founded in 1982 in the basement of Eastminster Presbyterian Church after its former senior pastor, Rev. Douglas A. Dunderdale, and a Dr. David Hall, had a desire to offer a ministry of healing to the urban area of Pittsburgh that caters to the whole person-physically, mentally and spiritually. Along with Hosanna House, ELFHCC also offers medical and dental care at its two other locations, Harvard Street in East Liberty and Churchland Street in Lincoln-Lemington. Their services include primary care, drug and alcohol outreach, podiatry, obstetrics/gynecology, lab services, hearing and vision screening, psychology and counseling, homeless outreach and much more.

Before one may receive their services, Effort explained that patients who visit the health care center must first consult with the physician or dentist to get a diagnosis and then meet with a benefits eligibility coordinator to determine their level of payment. Depending on one’s eligibility, payments for dental care can range from $25 per visit with no bill to $80 per visit with no bill. Some may even be responsible for 100 percent of the cost.

While some may think oral care is not as important as other medical issues, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, etc., Effort disagrees.

“It’s all connected. Everything in your mouth is connected to the rest of your body,” he said. “If you have decayed or abscessed teeth that go untreated, those things are like poison and can circulate to your body; contributing to heart disease (and more)…It’s a whole world of concepts and what we’ve found is that a lot of people who don’t take care of their teeth, don’t take care of the rest of themselves. This is why you need a whole-person concept for treatment.”

Like Effort, Towns said, “Most often we concentrate on medical health; however, dental health is just as important to the holistic well-being of people. Complications with dental health have been linked to serious health problems, particularly cardiovascular disease.  These are preventable with quality dental care.”

Effort said often times patients have other medical issues they must tend to before dental care can be given. In cases like that, patients are referred to the medical portion of ELFHCC, unless they have their own primary care physician.

While there is no plans to add another location, there is however a search underway for another dentist to assist with the Hosanna House location so that it would be open five days a week instead of its now two days. “There’s a huge need,” he said.

Along with adding convenience for the community by re-opening the Hosanna House location, Effort said, the partnership is “even better because you have a well-known structured institution working with us. It’s a wonderful situation for the community.”

An open house is scheduled for later, but no date was given.

(For more information on ELFHCC or its services, visit http://www.elfhcc.com)


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